My first cat, Moondust, lost her voice calling for me each time I went out of town for work. After she died, I decided to bring home two kittens—littermates—who would keep each other company when I wasn’t home. This worked well for six years. Sunflower liked fifteen minutes of attention from me each day. Then he’d run around, sleep, eat and keep his brother company. Sweetpea was the mama’s boy. Except for the few minutes he moved away so Sunflower could have me, Sweetpea would be on my lap, my chest, my shoulders—or at least in the room with me.
One night, I came home and found Sunflower lethargic. I rushed him to the animal hospital. He was diagnosed with diabetes and needed insulin. For about a year, I gave him injections every twelve hours. Then, he had a really bad seizure. I brought him to the vet, who was not able to save him. When I returned without his brother, Sweetpea didn’t look for him. He didn’t call for him. He didn’t seemed surprised. He continued to spend every moment he could with me.
I went to New York over Thanksgiving, leaving Sweetpea in Seattle with a cat sitter. I fell in love with the family dogs and began to wish for a puppy. Someone to keep Sweetpea company. Someone to go on hikes and run with me. So I asked the cat.
Me: I know you were lonely, spending your first Thanksgiving without your brother. What would you think about having a puppy to play with and keep you company?
Sweetpea: Where would it sleep?
Me: On the bed, with us.
Sweetpea: But, I sleep on the bed.
Me: You are eight pounds, and don’t take up much space. There would be room.
Sweetpea: I like moving around the bed, and sitting on any part of you I want. And you would pet it, wouldn’t you?
Sweetpea: Which would take away from your time with me.
Me: So, what I hear you saying is that you don’t want a puppy?
Sweetpea: I’m very happy having you to myself. How ‘bout we keep it that way?
Leslie Haber lives in Washington State and is an organizer with SEIU, the Service Employees International Union.